Monday, March 05, 2007

For Purple Hazy Majesty, above the fruited plain

Mrs. Schori has delivered an interesting sermon in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend.

She started with praise for the public amenities of Portland, Oregon, which I'm sure are very nice, with handicapped-accessible sidewalks and transit. I'm sure every Christian would regard helping the halt and the lame as an act of charity, and worthy of praise. So it was a bit of a jolt when she introduced some very worldly rationales for doing good:
Now, I imagine that the adaptation required in this city wasn't easy, that it involved a series of struggles over how much it would cost, and who would be inconvenienced, and even why should we bother. And I imagine that a piece of the process had to do with the legal requirements of the Americans with Disability Act. Sometimes systems need legal sanctions before they will respond. Whatever's been involved, however, this city has become a beacon of light and hope for the differently abled, and it's had something to do with the push that's come from prophetic voices.
Yes, the threat of jail and lawsuits does tend to concentrate a mayor's mind, but it's rare to hear "the end justifies the means" preached from a pulpit. And since TEC is itself now so enamoured of "legal sanctions", it's no surprise to hear that Mrs. Schori considers lawyers and sherriffs "prophetic voices".
We understand that covenant promise in the same words that Jesus heard at his baptism – you are my beloved, and with you I am well pleased.
"My beloved SON" is the actual quote. This is not the first time she's pulled this little elision. I've finally figured out what's going on here. In its zeal for environmentalism, 815 is having its Bibles printed on perforated paper! Sure, you lose about every 10th word, but think of all the trees we're saving!
The ancient rules said, "no healing on the sabbath" because healing was understood as work, and the community around Jesus is struggling to make sense of this rabbi's willingness to ignore those rules. And, indeed, Jesus insists that he's going to keep on healing and casting out demons until the powers that be put an end to him, until they silence this prophet.
OK, rabbi, prophet...yes, that'll cover the Jews and the Muslims in the congregation. Anything else? No? Well, let's just stay with "prophet" for the moment, since Mrs. Schori is so eager to hand out that accreditation today. Besides Jesus and the ACLU, what do we know about prophets?
The prophets make a business of nauseating, offending, and repelling folks who want to insist that you can't heal on the sabbath, or shouldn't make life easier for somebody in a wheelchair.
Actually, I don't recall many prophets in the Old Testament who went around criticizing people for keeping the sabbath. As a matter of fact, I don't recall them suffering unduly from an excessive zeal on the part of the people for keeping the Commandments and the Law at all. Rather the opposite, actually; the Bible is filled with the fulminations of prophets against Israel for getting slack, ignoring the Law and doing specifically forbidden things. Yes, they also complained about people who would outwardly keep the rules but inwardly rebel and sin. Their solution was never to tell people to just abandon the laws; it was to keep the laws, and also accept their meaning in their hearts. Oh, and it wasn't "folks" who wanted to heal on the sabbath - it just one guy, Jesus. His idea to just set aside the Law was actually a New Thing. It wasn't something a prophet would normally do. Maybe that's why we don't call him a prophet, we call him the Son of God.

Then we get into a area that is a little closer to home for me:
Jim Cruikshank was there, and told us about the Diocese of Cariboo. That diocese doesn't exist anymore...
That's rather a dainty way of describing it. That diocese was bankrupted by lawsuits. In other words, it was hunted into extinction in the law courts. But financial ruin is not something that Mrs. Schori finds the least bit distressing:
The Diocese of Cariboo sought reconciliation as well, it dissolved its corporate structure in order to offer what it could in restitution. The people of that diocese have in some sense offered their lives in prophetic witness, in order that healing might begin on a new sabbath.
Isn't that nice? Doesn't that make you feel all warm and cozy about having every penny stripped from you in a courtroom? I hope TEC's victims legal targets in Virginia are paying attention. This woman thinks that bankrupting your churches and your people is inviting you to offer a "prophetic witness", and she's just the gal to help you do it.

Of course, that defiance of the Law she was boosting at the beginning of her sermon isn't much in evidence at this point. She never suggests that it would be "prophetic" to ignore the judges and the lawyers and the police, especially if they hand down a verdict in 815's favour. I guess it's one thing when the "Law" is just some silly old commandments, and quite another when it's furnished by a U.S. District Court, armed with the power of arrest. Those poor old Pharisees; if only they'd thought of slapping a fine on Jesus and garnisheeing his donkey, she would have been on their side.



Blogger Ellie M said...

"differently abled"

Liberal jargon alert!

"prophetic voices"

Episcopagan jargon alert!

"The prophets make a business of nauseating, offending, and repelling folks"

Nauseating? I must have missed those parts of the Bible where Moses, Elijah et al made their opponents barf. Though I must admit Schori & her crew make me feel kinda queasy at times...

"The Diocese of Cariboo sought reconciliation as well, it dissolved its corporate structure in order to offer what it could in restitution."

If "restitution" means "fill the troughs of ambulance-chasing lawyers" then I guess that's pretty accurate.

Methinks she has some hazy purple spectacles to go with her episcopal ensemble...

10:27 am  
Blogger Hiram said...

Classic "reappraising" eisogesis -- reading intot the passage what you want the passage to say. She ignores both the logical flow of the larger passage and the cultural context of the events, and instead gravitates to phrases that serve as jumping off places for her pet projects.

For all the "progressives" nattering on about "Reason," when it comes time to be rational, reason is in short supply.

10:54 am  

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